HP pulls out of ESN bid process

HP becomes latest supplier to quit the Emergency Services Network supplier framework bid process, citing concerns over risk

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has decided not to submit a bid for the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMPC) and will take no further part in the process, leaving Motorola as the sole remaining bidder on Lot 2, User Services.

In a statement seen by Computer Weekly, HP said even though it was confident it could have supplied Lot 2, it did not believe it would have been able to meet “the programme’s requirements and timelines with a level of commercial and technical risk that was acceptable to all parties”.

HP’s withdrawal from the increasingly troubled procurement process comes a month after O2’s parent Telefónica pulled out of Lot 3 of ESMPC – the supply of an enhanced commercial mobile broadband network – saying the market was too volatile for it to continue in good faith.

A Home Office spokesperson confirmed HP’s exit from the process and said: “The ESMCP is designed to attract the best tenders to establish a more effective, flexible and affordable network for the UK’s police, fire and ambulance services.

“The Emergency Services Network, which will replace the current communications system used by the emergency services, will provide a system which is better and smarter. It is also expected to save the emergency services around £1bn over the next 15 years.

“There are six strong bidders competing for the main contracts. We have received their best and final offers and hope to sign contracts later this year.”

The Home Office has faced down a number of attacks on the ESN procurement process, which it has been accused of conducting with unseemly haste and at risk to public safety.

The Emergency Services Network will replace an existing terrestrial trunked radio (Tetra) network, supplied by Airwave, with long term evolution (LTE) mobile broadband services.

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A spokesperson for Airwave, which was not taken forward into the final bidding process, said that a number of industry experts had raised concerns about the timetable for implementing ESMC, especially relating to the readiness of LTE technology for mission-critical communications.

Indeed, the supplier has already seen a number of clients extend their existing Tetra contracts through to 2020.

“In the long term we agree LTE technology is the future of mission-critical voice communications for the emergency services, but it is essential that the desire to adopt emerging technologies does nothing to compromise this country’s public safety, resilience and security,” said Airwave.

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